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Meeting on administrator evaluation system violated act03/23/98
MICHIGAN--The Clare County School Board's Personnel and Policy Committee violated the state Open Meetings Act when it met in private to review methods for evaluating school administrators, a unanimous state court of appeals in Lansing held in late February.
The court said that the committee is a public body, that the deliberations about the administrator evaluation system constituted a meeting, that the committee made a decision effectuating public policy and that there were no applicable exceptions in the Open Meetings Act.
However, the act was not violated when the school board members completed superintendent evaluation forms, Judge E. Thomas Fitzgerald wrote. The court found that because each individual school board member privately prepared the evaluation forms, no meeting had occurred.
Gerald Schmiedicke, a private citizen who followed school board activities, had sued the school board after he was denied access to an April 1994 committee meeting.
During that meeting, the committee recommended that the school board leave the administrator evaluation system intact. Upon receiving the committee's recommendation, the school board took no action on it, apparently because the committee did not recommend any changes.
The three persons who comprised the entire committee attended the April meeting, thus satisfying the Open Meetings Act requirement that a quorum be present, the court ruled.
A decision regarding the method by which administrators are evaluated affects public policy, the court said. By failing to openly deliberate on this governmental function, the committee foreclosed any involvement by members of the public in violation of the Open Meetings Act, the court decided.
The case was remanded to the Clare Circuit Court for entry of a declaration that the school board violated the Open Meetings Act. (Schmiedicke v. Clare School Board; Counsel: Charles Barbieri, Lansing)